Poetry

Poetry

EDUCATION BY POETRY

by Robert Frost

I do not think anybody ever knows the discreet use
of metaphor, his own and other people’s, the discreet
handling of metaphor, unless he has been properly
educated in poetry. Poetry begins in trivial metaphors,
pretty metaphors, ‘grace’ metaphors, and goes on to the
profoundest thinking that we have. Poetry provides the
one permissible way of saying one thing and meaning
another. People say, ‘Why don’t you say what you
mean?’ We never do that, do we, being all of us too
much poets. We like to talk in parables and in hints and
in indirections…What I am pointing out is that unless
you are at home in the metaphor, unless you have had
your proper poetical education in the metaphor, you are
not safe anywhere. Because you are not at ease with
figurative values: you don’t know the metaphor in its
strength and its weakness.

 

BIRCHES

by Robert Frost

…You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows—


Robert Lee Frost (1874 -1963) was an American poet known for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. Frost is the only poet to receive four Pulitzer Prizes for poetry and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960 for his poetic works. The excerpts on this page are drawn from one of Frost’s essays (top) and one of his most well-known poems (bottom)

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